Martin Scorsese to Direct Documentary About New York Dolls’ David Johansen

The feature-length doc will air on Showtime

David Johansen of the New York Dolls at the Cafe Carlyle
Martin Scorsese filmed David Johansen's performance at the Café Carlyle in 2019.
Sikelia Productions/Courtesy Of SHOWTIME
By Bonnie Stiernberg / July 8, 2020 6:00 am

Martin Scorsese is no stranger to music documentaries, and on Tuesday he announced his latest subject: David Johansen of the New York Dolls.

Scorsese will direct a feature-length documentary on Johansen for Showtime, along with David Tedeschi, that will include footage from Johansen’s performances at New York’s Café Carlyle earlier this year.

“I’ve known David Johansen for decades, and his music has been a touchstone ever since I listened to the Dolls when I was making Mean Streets,” Scorsese said in a press release. “Then and now, David’s music captures the energy and excitement of New York City. I often see him perform, and over the years I’ve gotten to know the depth of his musical inspirations. After seeing his show last year at the Café Carlyle, I knew I had to film it because it was so extraordinary to see the evolution of his life and his musical talent in such an intimate setting. For me, the show captured the true emotional potential of a live musical experience.”

In addition to the performance footage, the as-yet-untitled documentary will chronicle Johansen’s life across several decades: his childhood on Staten Island in the ’50s, his move to Manhattan’s East Village in the late ’60s, the early days of his music career as lead singer of the New York Dolls in the ’70s, the rise of his Buster Poindexter alter ego in the ’80s, and his experimentation with country and blues with the Harry Smiths in the ’90s.

Scorsese will also executive produce the film, alongside Ron Howard and Brian Grazer.

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